Bergerac is a beautiful town in the Dordogne with a historic medieval centre and a lovely riverside location. It is a favourite with locals and tourists alike.
Start your visit at the tourist office on Place Gambetta where you can pick up a tourist map for the town. Place Gambetta is also a convenient place to park.
Head for Place Pélissière at the heart of the old town. This is a lovely spot for a cup of coffee and a spot of people watching.
At the top of the square Cyrano de Bergerac surveys the scene. Bergerac has a couple of statues of Cyrano de Bergerac however there is no evidence that he actually visited the town! The lovely church next to the statue is Saint Jacques church which originates from the 11th century but was damaged in the religious wars and rebuilt in the 14th century. The campanile and balcony though are original.
This square was the original tanners quarter in Bergerac (pélissiers) and the round pond was used for clothes washing. Take a look at the fast moving stream which runs under the house at the bottom of the square. This stream used to feed one of the seven watermills of Bergerac.
Descending towards the river you will see another delightful square, and another statue of Cyrano de Bergerac. This square is called the Place de la Mirpe and is surrounded by some stunning half-timber, medieval houses.
Near to here is the Museum of Wine and River Transport (Musée du Vin et de la Batellerie) whose displays illustrate Bergerac's past as a river port and a wine trading port. Displays include a range of objects relating to wine and river transport as well as photos and some excellent large models of 'gabares' which are the boats that were used for transporting goods on the river. The lower part of Bergerac grew and became wealthy until the 19th century as a role of the wine trade.
Head down to the old port on the river side and you can see some replicas of the old gabares. Indeed you can take a ride along the river on one of them. The boat trip lasts about an hour and allows you to get close to the various bird species that live along the river. A very pleasant trip on a lazy, sunny day.
Notice the flood scale on the edge of the Rue du Port. The water level in the flood of 1783 was incredibly high and destroyed the bridge. In the 16th century floods destroyed the castle which was next to the bridge. Luckily a series of barrages protect modern Bergerac!!
Overlooking the river is Bergerac's house of wine, the Maison de Vins de Bergerac. Here you can do a little wine tasting, get information about the various wine regions and chateaux around Bergerac and even aquaint yourself with the flavours and smells that you can detect in wine. Whilst in the Maison de Vin be sure to enter into the beautiful cloister.
The cloister (Recollets Cloister) was built in 1630 and lived in by Franciscan months until the French revolution when the catholic chapel was replaced with a protestant chuch. Often during the summer it is possible to listen to live music events in the cloister.
Heading back up behind the cloister there are a number of lovely medieval streets and this is an excellent area to look for restaurants. Particular favourites are: Le Moutarde, La Villa Laetitia, le Vin'Quatre and l'Imparfait.
Look out for the very narrow Rue St Clar with its upper storey overhanging the lower storey. Near to here also is Bergerac's Tobacco Museum which is housed in the lovely Peyarède House, one of the most stunning in Bergerac. It was built in 1604 and has a round tower and Renaissance mullion windows.
PLACES TO VISIT IN BERGERAC
See separate section for Bergerac Museums
See separate section for Bergerac Castles
See separate section for Bergerac Shopping
We also suggest you take an hour or two to see the 'real Bergerac' - see suburban Bergerac
Other Bergerac Attractions
The main Bergerac market days are Wednesday and Saturday, around Place Gambetta. A large and lively traditional French market this is a good time to visit the town.
The Cultural Centre at Rue des Faures sometimes features interesting exhibitions by guest artists.
The Melchoir Theatre on Rue Belzunce often has popular or avante-garde theatre productions.